Sunday, April 30, 2006

Pajamas And Beer

The day was fairly well populated with the two above items, as I had nothing in particular planned for the day, and saw to it that I did just that.

Watched a lot of television, which included getting caught up on the recent episodes of South Park, which I find to be either bitterly scathing, or just kinda boring and pointless, but it's always something in the extreme catagory, for whatever reason. The two part 'Cartoon Wars' storyline, which essentially parodied the show's own banning by Scientologists, as well as the SP creators personal distaste for the Family Guy show and its staff of writers, was quite well done, and made a several valid points about banning television programs, and about the generally pointless asides of humor that make up a great deal of the Family Guy show. Not that anyone cares, but I thought that the SP guys made a valid point, that the humor in the Family Guy doesn't tend to serve the story, but just function as strange Jonathan Winters-esque non sequitors. This doesn't make it unfunny, just takes a different approach to the humor.

That Matt and Trey hate, with something of a passion, apparently.

As good as those episodes were, the most recent one was rather boring, with Al Gore showing up to try and increase awareness of an imaginary creature called Manbearpig, as a way of drawing attention to himself because he has no friends. It's just been real hit or miss recently, and nothing in between.

Watched a couple of movies, which may or may not end up being reviewed, as the movie review stuff tends to garner little or no interest. I guess it depends on how slow a day I end up having tomorrow as to whether or not I want to waste the time with the movie schtick.

My man in Odessa, Mistah Dave Vox Populi, or simply The Vox to those that know him and his esoteric musical tastes did me a solid today and chimed in with a suggestion for online music, www.cdconnection.com, which actually has a few of the Ennio Morricone discs listed with sound-clip links that actually work, a novel idea that I hope Amazon takes a cue from sometime soon, and a few of said discs are actually a few dollars cheaper than Amazon. Unfortunately, this isn't something I would be able to describe as a trend in their pricing, as they also list a few items for upwards of $25 to $30, which I'm just not going to be paying, sorry, I refuse to pay manufacturer's suggested retail price for any goddamned piece of music. If I wanted to get screwed that badly, I'd hunt down my nearest mall music outlet, because you can always seem to catch a few good bargains there; Gee, can I really pay you $16.95 for a twenty-something year old Thompson Twins CD? Really? I have no fucking idea how those stores stay in business.

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Saturday, April 29, 2006

A Tale Of Two Sisters (2003)

TiVo'd a few weeks back, via the Sundance Channels' continuing devotion to the Tartan Video label's Asia Extreme line, this South Korean film was very interesting.

Directed by Ji-woon Kim, this atmospheric moody piece begins with a father and his two daughters returning to their home, after a mysteriously hush-hush absense. Brought back into a home ruled by a cruel stepmother, the two girls do their best to be unobtrusive and steer clear of their new mother.

Strange sounds and nightmares plague the younger sister, who turns up with very real scratches after one such terror, causing the older sibling to blame the stepmother. Weird noises and bumps in the night abound, and the girls try to take refuge in their past, going through their deceased mother's personal items for some small comfort.

All of this builds to a major reveal about halfway through the film, and the latter half is an intriguing puzzle of flashbacks intercut with present-day happenings that may or may not be real, which I was a little unprepared for, but having had a little while to reflect, this is a very well-done film, which does leave a great deal of its conclusions up to the viewer, particularly some of the gorier moments, which can be interpreted as someone's hallucinations, or as one of the character's grisly demise, depending on your personal preference.

A beautifully shot film, with many scenes of claustrophobic dread within the dark, creepy house within which it's set, this is an interesting take on the ghost tale that will bear out repeated viewings. For an interesting take on the chronological order of the happenings in the rather disjointed narrative, take a look here, but be warned, it does contain spoilers.

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Friday, April 28, 2006

Changing Tastes, Changing Weather

After watching the Silent Hill film yesterday afternoon, I spent a good portion of the evening online, looking around for information about the score to the film, which is something that I've never given a shit about before. I've bought plenty of soundtracks, all that 'music from and inspired by the major motion picture', as the sticker on the front invariably reads, but have never understood the person buying the, in my opinion, boring orchestral score. It's always been something that I found terribly boring, but my listening habits of late, which is a daily diet of movie-related Podcasts, several of which, namely the Rue Morgue Radio show, the DVD Weekly Podcast, and to a lesser extent, the Cinemaslave Podcast all use portions of the theatrical scores in their backgrounds. This has slowly and insidiously worked its way into my little lizard brain, which having discovered that it can't eat it or fuck it, has decided to just consume more of it, for the ingestion aurally, and now I find myself online, digging through DOZENS of dead links (Damn you, Amazon Dot Com!) for a small hint of what treasures might be contained on the shiny silver discs that they have on offer.

My first journeys led me to the sound designer/composer who did most or all of the work for the Silent Hill stuff, a fellow named Akira Yamaoka, and the four cd soundtracks that he's done, which are all out of print according to Amazon. I was able to turn up a decent amount of the stuff a little cheaper on e-Bay, but it generally consists of you having to commit to buying all four soundtracks from an overseas source, for a fairly steep amount, when you consider that I've only heard what was used in the film, not in the games. Not that I doubt there's that much difference, it's just nice to have some small idea of what you're buying, sight unseen.

I've also been in pursuit of some of Ennio Morricone's work, not so much the Spaghetti Western work, but specifically the more bizarro-jazzy stuff he did for the Italian Giallo films of Dario Argento, such as The Stendhal Syndrome, or The Bird With The Crystal Plumage. Of course, the simplest way of checking this stuff out is the internet monopoly that is Amazon.com, whose links to most of the man's catalog are as dead a fucking doornail. This lead me to check out a site I remember rarely, if ever, visiting from a few years back, CDNow.com, which is now a subsidiary of Amazon.com, and features the same broken set of links, HAHAHAHA. Imagine my frustration, then realize that I'm way less patient than you probably give me credit for, shaking my fist at the sky in cartoon villian frustration.

I imagine I'll also find myself looking into David Lynch's favorite jazz-man, Angelo Badalamenti at some point, as his quirky oddness has always made Lynch's films an interesting place to be, though on the whole, I think a lot of it tends to be lighter than I'd be that interested in.

It's an amusing change in my personal tastes, kinda looking into a genre that I previously had zero interest in, if not an outright disdain for, so if anyone reading this stuff (Either one of you) has any comments or suggestions about the whole film-score scene, let me know, composers, what have you, but please bear in mind that the darker, cult film scene is preferable, or if you have any info where I might be able to grab a few soundbites to let me know what I'm getting into, shoot me an e-mail.

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Thursday, April 27, 2006

Silent Hill (2006)

This Christophe Gans film, directed by the man who gave us Brotherhood Of the Wolf, adapts the Konami game with a lot of style. Ya notice I had to make certian there was a link to the video game company's site, as I understand that most video games do poorly, and I want to send as much business their way as I can. Actually, speaking of people who need your money, why don't you run over to Microsoft too, and maybe look around for some shit to buy, I understand they could use a few bucks as well.

Digression aside, I really enjoyed this movie. That's not to say it's that great of a film, or without its faults, but as far as an adaptation of a video game, it's light years ahead of a lot of anything in the Uwe Boll catalog.

From what I've read this story follows elements of several different game releases, told through the eyes of Rose (Radha Mitchell), whose daughter has a problem sleepwalking, waking screaming about a place called Silent Hill. Her further investigation into the town reveals a ghost town, located on a still burning coal fire that's smoldered in the West Virginia mountians on which it's set for 30 odd years. She takes her daughter there, to try and unravel whatever connection there could be, and entering town runs off the road to avoid a ghostly girl, knocking herself unconscious. When she awakens, her daughter Sharon is missing, and there is no sign of the ghostly girl either.

Forced to enter the ashy, evacuated town, Rose encounters all manner of creepiness, and follow clues to find her daughter, who she keeps just catching small glimpses of, as she leads her on a strange chase through the town. This leads to encounters with numerous demonic creatures, the most menacing of which is the character apparently culled from the second version of the game, Pyramid Head, who at one point in the film actually pulls off a characters' dress, and then just a casually pulls the skin from her body.

Okay, there are flaws to this film, some even glaringly puzzling, causing my friend and I to throw up the open palmed 'What The Fuck?' gesture to the screen more than once.

That said, this is a very visually compelling film, which effectively captures the creepiness of the video game, and some of the special effects are quite entertaining/disgusting, if you're bent like that. I would also have to say that I didn't find the child actress in this film anywhere near as annoying or vaguely creepy as the kids in either The Ring or The Sixth Sense, which is a big plus for a horror film.

Well worth your open-minded hour and a half, but be realistic, and don't expect high art.

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Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Art For Art's Sake

A somewhat laid back day, as we decided to stop taking orders early on, even before noon, which is almost unheard of, this allowed us to remain caught up for the afternoon. Part of this less hectic afternoon allows me to watch Chatty Cathy do her best routine, which involves trying to flag down one of the assistant managers with asinine questions while she's trying to do something important. It's like a fun game of 'Watch The Aneurism', fun for the whole family, as the assistant doesn't want to just shout at her for bothering her with unimportant shit, but has an obviously hard time stifling the urge nonetheless. I'm waiting for the right circumstance to lead to violent shaking of one or more parties, I'm certian it's coming, I just want it to happen before I walk on this job. Oh Lord, hear our prayer.

Our creepy molester delivery man managed to drop an entire box of 12 rose bud-vases for a group of secretaries at one of our local oil companies on the fucking floor shortly after lunch, and apparently blamed me. Twenty minutes later when I took out the earbuds to ask a question, I inquired as to why someone was re-working stuff we'd already finished, and found out that I supposedly put it somewhere unsteady, and it fell to the floor. After setting our boss straight, saying in as many words, trust me, when I'm screwing up, you'll know, alright? I was struck by the fact that a grown-ass man is so gutless as to baldfaced lie about dropping something, what a fucking weasel. Yeesh.

Listened to the newest Cinemaslave Podcast this afternoon, entertaining as always, as well as a new (Cool) Shite On The Tube show. I really need to find at least two or possibly three more Podcasts to grab each week, it seems as though I'm just a couple hours short of filling the work-week with media-related entertainment and news, thus successfully avoiding any contact with those that can bring me down.

This evening, after a nice dinner with friends, we ran by my friend Elliotts' house, because we've found out that one of the three galleries at the museum will be empty the night of the wedding reception, and as such, we have the option of filling it with art of our choosing. Elliot has a houseful of his own and the art of several friends, so he wanted us to make specific choices about which ones we wanted to use. This turned out to be all of what he had available, and he and I have made plans to scout out the museum later this week, so he knows just how much space he has to work with. I am really looking forward to having this work included in the reception, as all of it is quite a departure from what our local museum tends to generally display, although there is an exhibit up right now on Modernist Painting, the collection displayed featuring a couple of deKooning paintings. This exhibit will of course be long gone by the time we have the wedding reception, and will most likely be replaced by a retrospective of the most boring desert landscales that they can locate. With this in mind, we want to make the most of what we can with Elliott's selection of more contemporary art, as it reflects our tastes, and personalizes the event a bit.

As uncooperative as the museum has been thus far, I'm sure they'll manage to find some way of snagging this up for us.

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Tuesday, April 25, 2006

A Familial Update Followed By World Wide Web Weirdness

After the drama of last evening, I was surprised to have the future brother-in-law drop by my job this morning, and I came out to greet him apprehensively, because how shitty can you get on the sales floor at your job without getting fired? Then I remembered that I could give a fuck about this job and said, "Hey, what's up?" with a smile on my face. He was quite hat in hand, as it were, very apologetic, both to me and K, bought flowers to take to her at the office, to deliver in person with his apology to her. Things are smoothed over, but what the fuck, who knows what it'll be next time?

Tuesday was very hectic, though the morning was fairly quiet, slow and steady, like the tortoise. I knew we had a lot of orders for the afternoon, and left for lunch at 12, only to come back to a scene out of Thunderdome. Apparently the phone people don't realize that while the can take an order in five minutes, it takes us an average of thirty minutes to get that order done and out the door for delivery, so they take another five orders while we do their first one, and this snowballs into what we had this afternoon. I got back from lunch, noticing that no one else's car had been moved, but saw our flower processor standing, nay, sitting out back of the store, talking on her cell-phone, so I figured it couldn't be that busy, and that we were most likely caught up for the afternoon.

I walk back in, there's a small tire-fire burning in one corner, every phone line is ringing, there looks to be a hostage negotiation going badly in the front of the store, the bodies piling up by the moment, and a small pack of feral children were running loose in the back-room, chasing a starving dog that only had three legs, gibbering a language that was all their own; it was a veritable apocalyptic nightmare.

Of course, I am fairly prone to hyperbole, but it was pretty fucking bad, no one had taken a lunch, the front-end people were still taking orders, and nobody had the sense to say, "Hey, we're amazingly behind, what the hell are you doing to us?"

iPod take me away.

The Reel Horror Podcast had a tidbit about something that I had to run home and investigate for myself, and I can report that my giggling realization this afternoon was true: Steven Seagal has produced two different musical albums! While I'm still being baffled that he's continued making films, this uncanny motherfucker slipped two blues records past me. Personally, I tend to agree with George Carlin's line about 'white people shouldn't sing the blues, they should give people the blues', so when I heard the samples here, I wasn't that impressed. His music sounds competent, but why would I buy an album of it unless I was the president of his fan club? And while some of his song titles are amusing, I'm fairly certain I used to own a porno film called Talk To My Ass, so this album may end up getting him sued by some strung out coke-whores from the Valley who think he's infringing on their copyrights.

Stunned doesn't begin to describe it.

I was pleasantly surprised to find out this afternoon, via the DVD Weekly Podcast, that here was a new special edition of the Terry (Bad Santa) Zwigoff documentary about underground cartoonist, counterculture hero and sexually twisted oddball Robert Crumb being released this week, re-issued this time around with a commentary by film critic Roger Ebert and Terry Zwigoff. This comes as good news to me, as I had never gotten around to owning the film when it was originally released, so this 'double-dip' isn't as annoying to me as it might be to some.

Don't worry, I'm sure they'll screw me on something next week.

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Monday, April 24, 2006

Family Drama Monday (Or: Fuck You And The Usher Who Walked You In)

As if it wasn't a long enough day, featuring a lot of the lower-back straining labor involved in tearing down a major event, most of which drug out all day, once I got home I had to get a call from my betrothed, just to let me know one of her sisters has decided to drop by their mother's house just long enough to show her ass for no other reason than that she could.

Witness: With the impending wedding, we have sent out a request in the mail that all those involved in the wedding, specifically the ushers, go to blah-blah by such and such time to get fitted for tuxes. K's sister chose tonight to inform her that her husband was quite put out by a mere mailed request for his services, and proceeded to chew her ass up one side and down the other, 'because that's just not how you do that, that's not how you ask someone to be an usher in your wedding'.

After hearing about all this bullshit after the fact, I told her mother that I was glad I wasn't around for this shit firsthand, because if I'd at least like to be officially a member of the family before I'm on the in-laws lawn talking to the cops about why I'm covered in blood.

What the fuck does this guy need by way of an invitation, an engraved request delivered by a guy with a fucking trumpet? Jesus, it's something that's been off-handedly discussed several times, and with everything going on, it might've slipped her mind to make a personal entreaty to the apparently now wounded party.

Yet it's a big failing on K's part, even though none of the other seven people asked got their fucking knickers in a twist.

K had basically called to find out what I wanted to do about it, and I said "Fuck 'em, if they want to be all assy about such a nothing 'insult', I don't even give a rat's ass if they show."

And if he wants to get twisted over a piece of paper in his mailbox, I'm willing to mail another copy of the request to him, and write over it in magic marker, "Y'know what? Fuckit. We're cool. Nevermind."

You want to see petty and bitchy, let's dance, motherfuckers.

I thought I'd at least have a wedding band on my finger before things would get ugly with these people, but if you want to act like bastards, you came to the right place, baby.

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Sunday, April 23, 2006

The Wide World Of Podcasting

The world of podcasting has been very good to me recently, because in my struggle to fill the hours at work with entertainment related shows (World News Feed? Fuck that, I wanna know what movie did well at the box-office this past weekend and what Tom Cruise's placenta eating ritual is like!) I've ran across a lot of different stuff recently.

The highlight of this is the fact that I won a couple of George Romero DVD's in a recent contest that the lovely chaps over at Mondo Movie ran last week, so that's super cool, as I honestly don't remember ever winning anything in a contest before.

Cokes or a Big Mac don't count.

The most recent discovery has been the CHUD Show Podcast, which appears to be a semi-monthly one hour or so produced by Nick Nunziata and the guys at the CHUD.com site. While I haven't ever visited the CHUD site, nor Ain't it cool news with any regularity, as I don't tend to want to wade through the various script development stages that these folks follow a project from, all the way to theatres and onto video. I just don't have that kind of strength and commitment. The CHUD Show tends to be a solid hour of bad puns and movie related in-jokes, but is a great deal of fun, as they get into some strange digressions quite frequently.

Another recent discovery has been the DVD Weekly Podcast, which is produced by two brothers from the Seattle area, which kinda surprised me, as their accents lead me to imagine a deeper South location, which isn't a dig, just that they sound pretty Southern. The only real quibble I have to mention (or warning I have to give, depending on your perspective) is the fact that they do constantly refer to each other as 'brother', which causes me to picture some sort of wrestling duo, in the flavor of Macho Man Randy Savage. I mean, seriously, I thought it was some kind of put on at first, but it is just apparently how they speak. That said, the show itself is pretty damned informative, as they cover new releases pretty thoroughly, and feature a highlighted review of a specific disc each week.

You can do much worse for a free download, believe you me.

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H (2002)

I caught this little Korean thriller on the Sundance Channel recently.

Owing a great deal to both Silence Of The Lambs and Se7en, this film is certainly watchable, but loses its way in the latter half, when they have to trot out their big 'twist' that I would have preferred that they went another way with.

Detective Kim is investigating a series of murders that mimic those of a serial killer currently on death row, the case being more personal for her because her lover, who failed to catch the killer before he surrendered himself to the police, actually committed suicide over the case. She is aided by Detective Kang, who is put off by her cold demeanor, he being quite emotional and rash at times.

The new series of murders, again involving pregnant women killed in specific manners, all point to someone being in cahoots with the jailed killer, Shin Hyun, and this is something he seems to relish when interrogated, spouting rather pretentious dialog about the abyss and such that would make Hannibal Lecter cringe. The detectives finally apprehend a killer, only to have yet another body turn up. They dig deeper into Shin Hyun's psychiatric history for answers, only to have his female psychiatrist stonewall them about the details of her sessions with the killer. The first copycat killer is revealed to be a former prison-mate of Shin Hyun's, and they begin to explore others who might have served time wth him, or have known him in the past and could possibly have been paid off to resume his killings.

A decent, if ultimately unsatisfying film, (the ending lost me in its twist) I have to give the film its due for gore, which it doesn't skimp on, and fairly graphic violence. Nicely shot, the camera-work is nothing spectacular, but serves the story well, and the characters are all interesting. Lacking the punch of some of the other films to come out of Korea recently, it's still an enjoyable ride.

You could definitely do worse for a Sunday afternoon rental.

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Saturday, April 22, 2006

The Ring (2002)

This American adaptation of the Japanese film Ringu was directed by Gore (The Weatherman) Verbinski. I'd had the sequel floating around the old TiVo for a few weeks, finally had some time to give them both a spin this evening.

After her nieces' mysterious death, absentee mother and newspaper reporter Rachel (Naomi Watts) is asked by her sister to investigate, which leads her to a story about a 'cursed video' that causes you to die exactly seven days after watching it. Watts has an estranged relationship with the father of her son Aidan, who is something of a latchkey child, who basically takes care of himself while his mother pursues her career, and refers to her not as 'Mom', but simply as 'Rachel'.

Once she views the video, Rachel begins to get worried, noticing first that she appears blurred, marked somehow in photographs, and calls in Aidan's father, who just so happens to be a photographer. He views the tape as well, but is less upset than Rachel is. Rachel continues to investigate, and the stakes are upped dramatically when Aidan accidentally views the tape, thus cursing himself as well.

The parents band together to try and save themselves and their child, which can only be done by deciphering the clues hidden within the video, which sends them to an island community that has suffered many catastrophes in the past, possibly linked to the video, or someone in the video. Each new clue is followed by a new manifestation of the curse, a nose-bleed, coughing up hair, etc.

I won't bother to tell you any more of the plot, though I imagine most anyone who's interested in this film has already seen it at this point. I enjoyed the American version of this film a great deal more than the Japanese one, because it fleshed out the plot a bit more than the original film.

Having a thing for Naomi (I Heart Huckabees) Watts doesn't hurt either.

A very creepy film, which has a great reveal in the last act, because I for one sat through it the first time wondering, 'Now how in the hell does a video-tape kill you?', a plot device that is somewhat spoiled after this film, because the sequel certianly lacks that suspense and tension in that respect, as you know what to expect.


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Rings (2005)

This short film was included in a two pack DVD set along with the original Ring film upon the release of the sequel this past year. Directed by Jonathan Liebesman, the man who gave us the utterly abysmal Darkness Falls in 2003, this was actually a fairly intriguing concept.

Stupid thrill-seeking teenagers play a latter-day game of chicken by viewing 'the video' from the first film, and documenting their experiences as the seven days pass, then at the last moment make a copy and show it to someone else, thus sidestepping Samara's vengeance.

The story follows Jake through his week, after 'saving' someone who had seen the video, he begins to hallucinate and see manifestations of Samara in various places. As this goes on, he becomes edgier, and begins to research the phenomena online, in a 'Rings' forum, which has people who have tempted fate uploading their own experiences.

He becomes more desperate as the hallucinations gain strength and his potential 'life-line' backs out on watching his video, thus dooming him to Samara's vengeance.

This was filmed in a very jumpy, hand-held style that I thought reflected the mood of the characters quite well, and functions as a bridging device between the two films. Sadly, none of this information is ever addressed in the sequel.

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The Ring Two (2005)

Re-watched this sequel to the American version of The Ring, which was directed this time around by Hideo Nakata, the man responsible for both Dark Water and Ringu, the film that kick-started all the hoo-haa about pale ghostly girls with dark hair covering their faces.

Naomi (21 Grams) Watts reprises the role of Rachel, some months after the events of the first film, trying to make a new life with her son Max, played again by the same creepy child from the first film. Having barely survived the first film, why these people have a television in their house is beyond me, but their oddly charming/disfunctional family dynamic is very much still in place. As hot as I think Naomi Watts is, this is quite possibly the least flattering role she has taken, in that she just looks like a quasi-horrible parent for 2 hours in each Ring film. If your 8 yr old is calling you by your first name and making his own breakfast, you may be a shitty mother.

The teens from the Rings short make a brief appearance, just long enough to set up the fact that Samara is still a restless spirit, and then die. Rachel, now working for a small-town newspaper, and hearing of the odd manner of death (found dead in front of television, house flooded, sole witness hiding in the basement, near catatonic) puts two and two together and begins investigating. After recovering the tape that the kids watched, she destroys it, and this is where my film logic with this movie gets fuzzy. My hypothesis at this point is that the destruction of the tape A: Somehow alerts Samara to her and Aidan's whereabouts..or B: Frees Samara from the tape (?) to possess Aidan, which she does shortly thereafter.

Logic is fuzzy in this film over a few different points, the aforementioned possession, an attack by deer (who are somewhat convincingly CGI'd, but serve no purpose, save to illustrate that there's something wrong with the kid that only animals sense), and a visit to Samara's birth-mother, played by a loony Sissy (Carrie) Spacek only muddies the waters as to Samara's actual origins.

A fairly watchable sequel, this really gets caught up in its own set of tricks and doesn't really make a whole lot of sense if examined with a logical eye, but if viewed for the creepy imagery, with water pouring out of any number of places that it shouldn't (walls, TV's, couches, you name it..) to signify Samara's return, it's an okay ride, just don't expect too much. Sadly absent is the suspense of the first film, as we know what to expect from Samara, so there's dramatically less tension.

Personally I'd have liked to have seen some attention paid to the cult-like followers of the 'cursed video' storyline posed in the short film bridging piece.

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Friday, April 21, 2006

The Long Bad Friday

Christ, what a long day it was, we have a large charity event to prepare for. Finally home late, with a large can of the recently discovered Murphy's Pub Draught to keep me company on the internet, I need to pop in here and make a strange statement about my life.

We currently have five chicks living in the kitchen.

It's not as hot as you might think, we are talking about actual chickens, folks.

I think it's an odd statement about my life when I have this daily 'What The Fuck?" platform for my personal perceived trials and tribulations, and my life has become so filled with eccentricity and weirdness that I haven't even paused in print to note, "Oh, by the way, a crazy friend of K's mother gave us a small assortment of pastel dyed chickens for Easter."

We've purchased a good sized rabbit cage to house the birds in until they are sufficiently grown enough to fend off the odd neighborhood cat, and then they shall be free range yardbirds, free to roam as they please in the back-yard. Crazy as that might sound, the lady immediately beside us has had at least one rooster living in her back-yard since K has owned this house, though I fear the worst for him, as I haven't heard him crow in a good long time. Friends and the gals at work have expressed concern about what our other neighbors might think of chickens in the area, but to my way of thinking, it's no more annoying than their teenager coming home with a booming stereo at 1 AM any given night of the week.

If they can have teenagers, I can have chickens, dammit. I bet their lousy kids can't even dig the grubs out of their yard, either.

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Thursday, April 20, 2006

First Of Many Wedding-Related Parties (Or: Dear God, Who Are All These People?)

We attended a party thrown in our honor tonight, hosted by some of her friends from one of the many non-profit organizations she belongs to, and it was a lot of fun, though I must admit that there were times during the evening that I felt like I had a second job. Having been on my feet at work all day, grabbing a quick shower and change of clothes, then standing for another three hours or so, I found myself frequently wondering if we get to go on break anytime soon. Chit-chatting with folks who I may or may not have met before, and somehow know who I am, while I'm at a complete fucking loss as to who they may be isn't the most comfortable feeling in the world, but a polite smile and occasional nod seem to go a long way towards blending in.

The funniest thing about the evening, without a doubt, was the fact that two different women informed me that it was so nice to see me again, and how much they'd enjoyed talking with me at the ribbon-cutting ceremony for the George Bush Childhood Home the other day, and I didn't have the heart to tell them that they had mistaken me for K's friend Morris. I guess we both have dark hair, and are tall, but I do have a fucking beard, for God's sake. I guess things could be worse, and I'll probably be okay, unless Morris somehow starts acting like a jackass when he's out with K, if I have people giving me shit about things I didn't do, then I'm going to have to set them straight.

I ate a Hot Pocket for lunch, along with some chips, so when we got to the party, I figured we'd greet a few guests, then grab a bit of the snacky foods that were on offer, which included a mashed potato martini bar, complete with fixings. This did not happen, as a steady stream of what seemed like half of Midland descended on the house on the space of 10 minutes, and the next thing I know, one of the hostesses offers me a beer, and then about 10 minutes after that, I realize I'm half-buzzed on my empty stomach, with one of K's pals who has no concept of the phrase 'personal space' practically brushing noses with me. She's the sweetest girl in the world, but as one unaccustomed to having someone stand on my toes and shout in my face, I'm a bit freaked out, and begin to wonder how bad my breath can possibly be if I brushed before the party. Not that I truly thought I could have bad breath, but you start to think crazy shit when someone is inches from your face. It was like having a pretty drill instructor shout nice things at you, which is bad enough in the loud party environment, but this is also her habit when you're standing on her lawn, so I just resigned myself to accepting compliments and possibly getting spittle in my hair and eyes.

A nice evening, lots of nice people, K seems to have a very nice assortment of friends, all of whom speak highly of her, and don't seem to realize that I'm not one of them.

One party down, who knows how many more to go.

C'mon, June 3rd.

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Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Hostel (2005)

I'm writing this fresh off my first viewing of the latest Eli Roth opus, so my feelings may change as they did with Cabin Fever after several viewings. My gut reaction to Hostel was that it was somewhat pointless, slow to get going, and then amazingly gruesome, and finally ended fairly well. Cabin Fever was a film that I caught at the theatre, and left it feeling kinda conflicted, in that I enjoyed certian parts of the film, and was ambivilant about a lot of things about it that I felt were things that he's always wanted to work into a film, and shoe-horned them into the script, come hell or high water.

I'll basically be echoing the reviews I've heard for the film, in that most of them have called the film very uneven, and I'd have to agree. We find a couple of American tourists in Amsterdam, hanging out with their new Icelandic pal they've met on their backpacking journey across Europe. The first 45 minutes (and I mean, almost to the minute) of the film are a quasi-comic sex-romp as they do drugs, screw hookers and try to goad the one uptight friend into trying to have some fun, which to them consists of being obnoxious American/touristy types who you don't care if they die, apparently.

Hearing lurid tales of a hostel in Slovakia where gorgeous supermodel variety women are gagging to fuck anyone without a European accent, especially Americans, according to the reliable source of a guy with a weird sore on his lip who produces digital photos of himself frolicking with said women, they make a beeline for the border. The tales are indeed almost too good to be true, as their roomates turn out not to be unwashed Swedish goat-herders, but two lusty foreign women who soon bed the two Americans. This carries on for awhile, and their Icelandic traveling companion disappears, and then one of our 'heros', after having a somewhat drugged reaction to a night of drinking.

We are left with our now suspicious final American, who confronts the roommates, demanding to be taken to his friend, which he is, much to his immediate chagrin.

I'll honestly say that I enjoyed the way the film ends, but was kind of so-so about the middle portion of the film. The beginning is okay, on a very base level of seeing a lot of nice looking women naked, but beyond that, the characters are kind of annoying, and since there isn't much of a plot to speak of, you kind of know from the get-go where it's going, there's no real mystery about what could happen to the characters either. I would say that the film is notable for the gore, which is plentiful, but beyond being slightly grossed out, there's not a lot off the top of my head to recommend this one.

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Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Sonatine (1993)

Finally watched this disc this evening, as they guys over at Mondo Movie Podcast will be reviewing it next week, so I wanted to have at least some idea what they were talking about. Written, directed and starring Beat Takeshi, the man who's given us Brother, Zatoichi: The Blind Swordsman, and the visually stunning Dolls, Sonatine is the tale of a world weary yakuza, as his boss sends he and a few of his lieutenants from Tokyo to Okinawa to help their compatriots with a rival gang skirmish.

Their fellows in Okinawa are mostly played for laughs, and things muddle along, until our Tokyo boys are involved in a major ambush in a bar, which leaves them on the run to a remote beach home to hide out. While hiding there Takeshi takes in a girl that he saves from an attack on the beach one night, and the yakuza have a bit of lighthearted fun as they await instructions from the boss back in Tokyo. The longer they wait, the more suspicious they become about the situation, as the boss never seems to be in when they try to contact him. Things become more serious when a stranger carrying fishing tackle shows up in the area, whose motives we aren't privy to.

This was a very engaging film, particularly for Western audiences because it has a certian Tarantino-esque flavor, in that we see a lot of the gang's behavior as humans during their downtime, rather than just as bloodthirsty thugs. The film has a lot of humor to it, in spite of its bleak tone overall, and the scenes of violence are so sporadic that when they come, it does come as quite a shock, rather than the desensitized effect some films can have.

Beat Takeshi is a pretty amazing director, and this is well worth the time. Highly recommended.

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Monday, April 17, 2006

More In That Random Thought Vein

Okay folks, it's late, I'm tired, so sit back and let's slog our way through this shit, shall we?

Typically quiet Monday at work, though I did get out of the shop for a bit and drove to the Odessa store to deliver some junk we'd borrowed a few weeks back for an event. While out on the road I saw a woman driving a Honda Accord with what looked like at least 30 stuffed Tweety's strewn across the back of her car window, of all shapes and sizes, each slightly different and discolored from the sun and age. I'd have to wonder how that collection got so out of hand, because I'm a horrible collector of useless junk, but when it's the same item in different sizes of the same configuration, you totally lose me. If we were talking about stuffed animals, bobble-head dolls, statues, limited-edition prints, or even flavored condoms emblazoned with Tweety's visage, I'd understand. But the same shit, over and over, in different sizes?

Driving back into town, sitting at a red light, all stopped traffic was quite literally accosted by a slightly dishevelled gentleman, unshaven and wearing an old polo shirt and jeans, gesturing wildly at passersby. He wore a home-made sandwich-board of sorts, which consisted of what looked like two peices of posterboard hung about his neck by a length of twine, with black magic-marker writing inviting us to a buffet being served in a hotel cafe on the corner.

Nothing quite as inviting as a possibly homeless person with a home-made sign directing me to a sketchy restaurant, whilst having what appears to be crazed contortions periodically.

I was also vaguely unsurprised to see our now former front-end person drop in this afternoon to say hi to everyone, which was her habit with the job she's now left us to return to. In fact, a friend had noted that she spent more time there once she'd quit than when she worked for them. My big fear right now is that she will decide that our shop is her new hangout for her lunch hour.

Spent most of the day with the iPod, new (Cool) Shite, Mondo Movie, and Cult Movies Podcast from the fellas at Stomp Tokyo, which had an amusing news story about Blockbuster Being sued by those rental throttling pricks over at Netflix, who claim that Blockbuster has stolen their 'queue' concept.

I wonder if the British can sue Netflix, as they're the only people I've ever heard use the term queue until around a year ago.

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Sunday, April 16, 2006

Julien Donkey-Boy (1999)

This was something I'd TiVo'd awhile back, and finally got around to watching this afternoon. Directed By Harmony (Kids)Korine, the man responsible for the Ohio-set, feel-bad white-trash artfilm, Gummo. He turns his camera this time on a more urban setting, concerned only with one family of odd-balls, rather than the depressed townful of odd-balls he covered in the previous film.

The film opens and closes with close-ups of an ice-skater, with opera playing in the background, and sandwiched in between we have the story of Julien (Ewen Bremner, Spud of Trainspotting fame) who suffers from schizophrenia, and his highly disfunctional, even perverted family, which includes Werner (Grizzly Man) Herzog as the crazed patriarch, who listens to the blues while wearing a gas mask, and offers his youngest son Chris (Evan Neumann) $10 to wear one of his mother's dresses and dance with him for awhile. Chloe (The Brown Bunny) Sevigny is his the pregnant sister, who we first see pirouetting in a tutu in her room, about 8 months pregnant.

The film doesn't follow any particular storyline, it's instead a series of vignettes that slowly make up a picture of these peoples lives, which is shot on video, handheld and shaky, which gives the film a documentary feel. The most dramatic moment involves Julien and his sister going ice-skating, which brings a climactic tone to an otherwise lazily observational film.

Not for everyone, this one has an extremely art-house approach, but is worth it for the sheer strangeness and beauty that Korine captures, almost accidentally at times.

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Saturday, April 15, 2006

My Internet Daisy Chain

I've just returned from the HTML wars, and it looks like our boy made out okay, if the small listing of links in the left-hand column all work. This came as a result of a comment I had left on another blog, and the owner of said blog offered to swap links, so I figured what the hell, how hard can it be?

Not as complicated as I could've imagined, but not as easy as I would've hoped, but I was able to nail that shit down in about 45 minutes of tinkering, as well as finally getting rid of the stupid 'Blogger" logo/link that's been hanging around the bottom of the archive list since I started doing this a month or so ago.

So you will now find a list of links to sites from people whose work I admire, or who have been nice enough to frequent these pages recently and leave some kind of feedback. Give it a peep, they may be less offensive than I tend to be, but they still seem like good people. All 'cept for Satan, he's way more offensive, but still good people, no matter how hard he tries to convince otherwise.

On a completely onrelated note, if you have the opportunity to check out the Sundance Channel's bizzaro animated series Monkey Dust, give it a peep, you won't be bored, that's for sure. A strange series of non-sequitur vignettes make up each episode, with varying degrees of actual animation, and a twisted sense of humor. According to my Google search, there have been 3 such series in the UK, I don't know what this American version is comprised of, but the series of shorts featuring three jaded, trendy fucks going around making their snide, pretentious comments about the world, only to be shown a posted sign reading "Sorry, No Wankers" and sent on their way had me laughing out loud last week. In the episode I watched this evening, a husband, when questioned about his whereabouts, and caught again in a lie, shamefacedly admitted "I was in a porn cinema, wanking like a safari-park primate."


Enjoy the linkage, though The Company Bitch gets more internet traffic than some porn sites, so I'm not sure why I'm sending any business her way.

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Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me (1992)

This movie is why I barely made it to work on Friday, because I came to bed, and decided to read for a few minutes, or possibly flip through the channels. This was starting at 11:30 and ran until around 2:00 AM. Knowing I had to be up at 7:00, I thought, oh, maybe I'll just watch a little but of it, and proceeded to get fished in completely to the point that I wasn't even sleepy when it was over.

A prequel to the events of the television series that confounded the nation, we follow the investigation of an FBI agent, played by Chris Isaak, accompanied by Kiefer Sutherland as an assistant, into the death of a woman, found beaten to death and wrapped in plastic. As with the late Laura Palmer in the television show, she also has a small square of paper under her fingernail. The investigation leads back to a trailer-park where the victim lived, and Isaak, returning alone, goes missing after finding a ring that we later find out belonged to the victim.

The film cuts to a year later, and proceeds to follow the last week in the life of prom queen Laura Palmer, played by Sheryl Lee, a figure that we've only previously known in the television series through a few small flashbacks and the testimony of others. This film paints a much more bleak picture of her life, and goes a long way towards explaining a lot of the questions raised by the series. We are privy to her alternately vulnerable and brassy moments, as she tries to outrun her inner demons with drugs, promiscuity, and denial.

There are many things that remain head scratchers in this film, which seems to be a given for any David Lynch project, and what I enjoy the most about his films is the 'almost-logic' that connects things, in that there are always moments that don't quite synch up logically, but because it gets in the neighborhood, it fits. Much of this turns up here in Laura's hallucinatory denial of who the character of BOB is, and how he's effected her life, how she's afraid of becoming him, etc.

David Bowie has an oddball cameo as an FBI agent who's 'been missing' for 2 years, then suddenly turns up in Gordon Cole's office, his superior played with scenery-chewing zeal by Lynch himself. Lynch is wearing headphones, and shouts his every line with glee.

Lynch is definitely an acquired taste, but I think the style and inventive approach far outweigh the confusion that may follow watching his work. Well worth your time.

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Friday, April 14, 2006

Random Mid-Day Thoughts

I saw a man driving a vintage Volkswagen Beetle on the way home for lunch today, which had a set of dealer tags on it, as a loaner car they give you while the service your car generally does. If someone tried to give me a 30 year old, rickety rattle-trap automobile to tool around town in while they worked on my car that was made within the past quarter century, I'd think they were out of their fucking minds.

"Here's your Pinto, good luck."

The other option is that this car is actually the dealer's personal vehicle or something, which I also find a bit suspect, as I've always thought of owning a car dealership as being at least somewhat lucrative, but if the best I can afford for myself is an old Bug, maybe I've made an error in my business plan.

One of the drawbacks to the iPod system of warding off co-workers is the fact that I do tend to miss out on a lot of random details of the workplace. A few recent for instances: One of the girls had a slashed tire on her car, which surprisingly happened while parked directly behind the store, not off in the remote parking lot near the storage, nearly two blocks from the store and much less traveled. I also found out yesterday that we suddenly have a 401K option available (yes, that's right, I know there are probably migrant workers picking fruit somewhere that have a better health and retirement plan than I do.) which was apperently discussed in a group meeting on two different occasions the past two weeks, both on my days off. And finally, one of our most butt-smoochy front-end people has decided to leave us for a giant leap backwards to her old job, which is perfectly fine with me, as her claim to fame has been near constant miss-spelling of the simplest of words, which is a real pet peeve of mine, not because she can't spell, but because it's an integral part of her job as a phone person.

I believe that's all the random news that I've missed out on in the past few weeks, though I could very well come in Monday and find myself working for the owners goofball son, rather than the slightly crazed woman I have an uneasy detente with right now.

The day he's there is the day I walk, that's my line in the sand. This far, no further, this is as low as my expectations can go.

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Thursday, April 13, 2006

Fat Girl (2001)

Ah, French cinema! If I'm ever feeling too good about life, or humanity in general, I can always count on the French to deliver a film so bleak that I come back to my senses a few hours later with my head in the oven and no recollection of why, nor any particular reason to really take it out of the oven, either.

They're just that good, people.

For every cutesy Amelie, there's two or three films like Gaspar Noe's Irreversible.

This film was directed by Catherine Breillat, a noted provocatuer who has given us several sexually potent (and explicit) films, such as 2004's Anatomy Of Hell, and 1999's Romance. Her work is never easy to watch, and has a certian moral ambiguity that most will find leaves a bad taste in the mouth, at best. At worst, you may wonder if you've just watched an arty porn film, and feel as though you need a shower.

She's that good.

Anias is 13, and overweight, basically at the mercy of her older sister, Elena, aged 15. On vacation near the sea, Elena is anxious to lose her virginity to a handsome boy they meet in a cafe, an older college student from Italy. The absentee parents are rarely seen, and when they are, they seem indifferent to Anias, scolding her about her weight, and showing a clear favoritism towards the older sister.

The movie moves along at a rather slow pace, and since the girls share a room, Anias and we, the viewer, are uncomfortably ringside for the clumsy manipulations that her older sister falls for, wanting to believe that her new beau truly loves her. While nothing truly graphic is shown, we see the encounters through the facial reactions Anias has to the sounds of her sisters' deflowering, Anias weeping as though she knows that it isn't meant to last.

Elena is happy for a time, and the girls spend time together, and we see that they do truly care for one another, even if this is rarely apparent in their day to day behavior, and then suddenly the boy's mother turns up, asking for the ring her son has given Elena, and their mother packs them up, heading home, no more vacation, no more playing at love.

And then things get worse.

This isn't an easy film to watch, mainly because of its languid pacing and fairly uneasy subject matter, but we find out in some of the bonus material, Breillat sets out to test her audience, to make them uneasy, and she succeeds admirably.

I'd recommend this, but not for the faint of heart.

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Wednesday, April 12, 2006

My Second Job

I've been spending waay too much time on e-Bay lately, because I've gotten this wild hair that I want to try and make a go of selling some stuff, if not for a noticeable profit, then to at least curtail my own spending a bit. I think I'd feel a little less wasteful buying as many movies as I do if I felt that I had a small sideline going to recoup some of the expenditure. It looks as though you can make a small investment in a random lot of DVDs that are offered on the site, cherry-pick anything you might want for yourself, then re-sell the rest at a reasonable price to make up a little of your money. With this in mind, I've been eyeing a couple of lots for sale, doing the math, trying to decide if it's worth the initial investment, because I'll be damned if I'm going to be sitting in front of the house at a garage sale in a few years with a box of duplicate DVD garbage that no one will even give you a quarter for.

The one trend I've noticed a lot of is that many folks on e-Bay have a great sounding listing of something like 'DVD Lot: 50 movies, mixed titles' etc. This invariably turns out to be the latest set of public domain films that have been packaged four films to a double-sided disc and retail for about $5.99 to $9.99 at Best Buy, who can't even give them away, but some poor sucker will end up bidding on them out of curiousity.

Another angle I've considered has been the Columbia House DVD club, with all their crowing about DVDs for $.49 apiece when you join, but of course that also translates into around a $118.00 investment for 10 total movies, after it's all said and done, assuming you don't fall for any of their sales mumbo-jumbo, and take strict advantage of the free shipping, and God forbid, don't buy anything outside of your 5 movie commitment that they hold you to. This would be an interesting way to go, because you'd have the option of offering brand-new, unopened DVDs, but the downside is, they'd have to have a pretty high ending total to really offset the money invested in them.

And that cool 'Buy It Now' option? I believe it does you no real favors, as you may get exactly what you need out of the price, but they charge you more to list it with that option.

The other option I've kicked around is getting a wholesaler's license, and trying to actually stock something in some kind of depth, but to truly do that right I'd need a pretty specific niche market I wanted to focus on, and I don't feel like fighting the ten thousand other people on e-Bay selling Region-Free Hong Kong action flicks. Plus, unless this takes off like gangbusters, I don't particularly want to fill a bedroom with piles of unsold movies just to be doing it.

I guess this has all come about because I would like for some part of my pocket money to come from doing something that I actually enjoy. The floral business has been fun, and is an okay creative outlet, but I have a helluva lot of other things that interest me more and that I have more of a passion for.

I would have to say that my bitter little friend Satan's Little Helper has been something of an inspiration with this, because a few years back, he started his own website devoted to his consuming interest, black metal, death metal, and generally all things Satanic and blasphemous, and has built quite a thriving little community around his site, which now boasts several outside contributers and an interesting little forum/message board.

Don't get me wrong, I can't honestly say that I browse his site very often, because it just isn't my thing, but I can say that I'm very proud of him for taking one of his personal interests and running with it, straight into the mouth of Hell.

Plus, he's been nice enough recently to give my little blatherings a link on his site, so I suppose we're going to Hell together.

I think that since film in general, horror film in particular, has been one my most time-consuming hobbies/interests, maybe it's time the films started giving me something back.

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Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Undead (2003)

I got a wild hair a couple days ago and re-watched this little genre-blending gem from Australia, which was a very well received a couple years back.

The Spierig Brothers, Michael and Peter, directed this film based on a series of shorts they had made about a zombie plague, and manage to create an amazing looking film which was edited on home computers for post production.

The small Aussie fishing village of Berkeley is struck with a meteor shower that infects the local populace, turning them into flesh eating monsters. A small band of survivors, which include the local beauty queen who is trying desperately to get out of the town, a young married couple, the wife of which hates our beauty queen, a couple of police officers, one a comically gung-ho veteran, the other a nervous rookie, and the taciturn owner of the local gun emporium all find shelter in a remote farmhouse.

Our two heroes quickly distinguish themselves, Marion, the gruff, gun toting farmhouse owner, who has a theory about the zombie infection involving aliens, and the beauty queen, Rene, who's duty as the local 'Miss Catch Of The Day' is to preserve the interests of the town, quickly rally the survivors, and make a plan to get some supplies from the general store, and then make their way out of town.

I really love this film, the editing is amazing, with everything having a nice sepia-tone quality to it, giving it a quaint, rustic feel. The action sequences are well shot, and the 'splat-stick' comedy works quite well. Marion does a nice bit of 'gun-fu' here and there that would do a Hong Kong action director proud, and the use of CGI with the zombies looks great. The feel of the movie reminds me of a 60's era sci-fi film blended with a more modern approach to horror, even the credit sequence has a retro look to it.

The film does raise questions about certian things that become clear upon repeated viewing, because I noticed details this time around that I didn't before, but there's also a Cliff Notes version of the frequently asked questions here, if you're curious.

Good genre flick, a lot of fun, in the vein of Shaun Of The Dead. Recommended.

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Monday, April 10, 2006

Amusing Diversions

We somehow had a busy workday for a change, so the day went by fairly quickly, which is nice, rather than struggling to find ways to fill the time. It would appear that all the elderly that had been hanging on until Easter have given up the ghost, as we had several funerals that we were doing work for all day. This is always surprising with older folks, as their friends and relatives tend to be deceased as well, which sounds cold, but it's just the reality of it.

These folks were quite popular, obviously.

Spent the morning and most of the afternoon working my way through the newest Podcasts, most of which seem to have new shows pop up Sunday. Highlights included a new Mondo Movie, (Cool) Shite, The Horror Podcast, and another less than stellar Infested Sound. The Infested Sound guys just aren't growing on me, and I think I may have to cut them loose. I've listened to four or five of their shows, I believe, and even though we're talking about a discussion of something as lowbrow as the horror genre, I think you can simply do better than what they come up with each week; it's just too damned juvenile.

The newest (Cool) Shite had them reading a comment I'd left on their blog regarding someone criticizing them for speaking ill of George Bush, saying that they should just stick to the movies, because they basically don't know what they're talking about. So I leave this venemous response to that guy, saying that God forbid someone call him out on his fuck-ups, etc, etc.

Little do I know that I'll end up hearing someone reading my response on the same day my fiance is going to be at the dedication of the George Bush Childhood Home, with her friend and family. K, who is delightfully a-political, was actually spawned from a family of staunch Republicans, so I find myself biting, nay, chewing on my tongue a lot when they get off on a tangent about how well 'George' (As her Mother is on a first name basis with the fool) is doing with the running of this country.

I myself had the option to go to this little soiree, but decided to pass, having no interest in meeting any of the Bush family, constituency, or hangers-on. Anastasia Beaverhouszen was shocked that I blew it off, due to the historical nature of the event, but I have no interest in a group of affluent Right Wingers rubbing elbows and patting each other on the back. Having been raised pretty damned poor, I have very little in common with these folks, nor do I wish to meet Laura Bush, because how could I not say something tacky about her husband? K took her best friend from high-school, who happens to be gay, and a Republican as well.

All those confused by that last sentence, please raise your hand. I don't get it either, but he's told me that he's more of a McCain-style Republican, and when questioned about the whole gay marriage issue, says he doesn't care because he has no interest in marrying somone.

Oh, well...

I just find it to be an amusing anomaly in the political world, and via her friend, I've met at least two other gay Republicans, which floored my friends, a liberal couple, when we all had dinner one evening in Dallas.

"Wow, I feel as though they should be tagged, so we can easily find and study them" Said the wife, as we left the restaurant that evening, and I couldn't help but wonder if she isn't right.

I can honestly say that the past two years with K have been interesting to say the least, what with all the people I've met through her, and they're only going to get stranger as time goes on, obviously.

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Sunday, April 09, 2006

Welcome To e-Bay Afternoon

There's not a lot going on today, just some mild rat-killing, which mainly involves some lounging about on the couch, and a bit of e-Bay management, as I find myself with duplicate copies of several films in the DVD collection, both from the greedy bastards double-dipping it and from the wholesale lot of random films purchased awhile back on e-Bay, the world's largest garage sale.

It's been a very enjoyable weekend, because not having to work Saturday (as I usually do), I was able to sleep in, watch a few films, go with K to pick up her friend Morris from the airport, and spend a rather enjoyable day just running around with them. When Morris usually comes to town, I'm stuck at work, so by the time I shake loose that albatross, they've pretty much done their hanging out, and are ready for a nap or something.

We went to a couple of bookstores, and I snagged a copy of the newest Rue Morgue Magazine, which features a tawdry cover story about the Eurosleaze erotica of the likes of Joe (Antropophagus) D'amato and Jean (Rape Of The Vampire) Rollin. I take my sleazy purchase to the counter, get rung out, and having only one large bill to my name, am jaw-droppingly agitated when the 18 year old jackass behind the counter hands me my receipt, $3.78, and unceremoniously ushers me on my way.

"I gave you a $100 bill." Says I, not pissed yet, but getting in the neighborhood.

"No, you didn't." Says minimum wage.

"Uh, yeah, I did." A little more bass in the voice, agitation made apparent to young wage slave: I don't want to be that asshole customer you talk shit about to your apron-wearing homies for the rest of the day, but we will be knee-deep in fucking managers in two shakes of a lamb's tail if I don't see four $20 bills, right fucking now.

Employee of the month opens register, removes the $100 bill from the slot that the twenties are placed in, says "Oh." and takes the change he's already given me back (!) so he can get out a calculator, and re-figure the total sales price of the magazine and a used DVD versus the new amount of the larger bill. He even recounted the damned COINS.

Rather than just hand me four $20 bills.

Folks, I dropped out of high-school, and my menial job history has obviously reflected that, a fact that I'm neither proud nor ashamed of, it's just the truth, and math was never one of my better subjects.

But, Gawd-damn, how remedial do you have to get to do this job with any kind of success?


And I can't even be bothered to mention the name of the store, because they deserve no free publicity based on the stupidity of their employees.

We ordered food, and had an fun evening in with friends, Anastasia Beaverhouszen favored us with a visit, with her husband and a friend from out of town, as well as Morris, of course, and Brian, and K's mother dropped by, complete with the urine-streaming Pomeranian, who immediately pissed and shit with complete disregard for the impromptu party that was happening around her.

A good time was had by all, save perhaps the sheepherders of Brokeback Mountian, which we finally got around to watching tonight.

They just seemed vaguely miserable.

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Saturday, April 08, 2006

It's All Gone Pete Tong (2004)

I had the TiVo grab this one off the Sundance Channel a week or so back, and gave it a look this morning. Also interesting to see the IMDB message boards debate as to the American confusion over the title of the film, which is a bit of the Cockney rhyming slang that I first really became aware of in the film Snatch, in that the last word basically rhymes with what is meant, regardless of what word is actually said. Hence, we have a film titled 'It's All Gone Wrong", as the slang will rhyme popular figures quite frequently.

And if I fucked that up, I've a British acquaintance who'll set me straight, I'm certian.

The film is a psuedo-documentary about fictional DJ Frankie Wilde, a reckless, out of control partier, who seems to be on top of the world, living the dance community dream life in Ibiza. We watch his excesses, drugs, women, booze, even going so far as to make a total ass of himself in front of the titular genre legend Pete Tong in an interview. Actually, though I'm well away from my techno phase, it was interesting to see how many recognizable figures from the scene got name-checked, including Tiesto, Carl Cox, Paul Van Dyk and several others, all playing themselves in the 'documentary'.

The point of the film is that Frankie is losing his hearing, rapidly, and has to make some tuogh decisions, about his drug use, and his rapidly spiraling life. His model wife leaves, taking the child, and Frankie tries to press on, ignoring his hearing problem, until an accident leaves him completely deaf, and he hits rock bottom.

Digging his way out, he finds solace in a new girlfriend, Penelope, who is his lip-reading coach, and eventually finds a way to pull his life together.

A strangely dark-humored film, which features a guy in a skunk costume that appears to him in moments of crisis with his drug habit, trying to keep him addicted, and a hilarious scene of Frankie and Penelope eating a quiet breakfast, oblivious to his manager near breaking down the door behind them trying to get their attention.

Good film, give it a look.

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The 40 Year Old Virgin ( 2005)

This film had been floating around the top of the Netflix queue for a few months, always with the 'short wait' availability, but apparently they fucked up and accidentally sent it to me this past Thursday.

Film follows socially retarded electronics store employee Andy, played by Steve (Bruce Almighty) Carell through his life of collecting toys and comics and basically not being able to talk to women, which of course draws attention from his co-workers. During a poker game, they manage to goad it out of him that he is indeed a virgin, which then spreads through the workplace, and everyone at their store then feels compelled to either mock or try to help him, usually with disastrous results. Andy eventually meets Trish, played by Catherine (Full Frontal) Keener, a single mother who runs the 'we sell your stuff on e-bay store' across the street, she finds his nice guy innocence charming, and they begin to date, with less disastrous results than his previous experiences.

Except for the time that her teenage daughter walks in on them about to have sex.

For a movie that I thought would be either stupid, or possibly depressing, considering Andy's total lack of social skills, I really ended up enjoying this movie a lot. It's quite interesting to watch Andy's character go from a glassy eyed wallflower who's inability to blend into society borders on autism, to a more comfortable within his own skin, confident person.

Keener, who I find myself strangely attracted to, doesn't hurt to have around either...she just has a weird appeal that I can't put my finger on, because she's not drop dead gorgeous, per se, but I think she's a decent actress who is usually in pretty interesting roles.

Worth your rental, fun way to spend a light-weight evening.

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Friday, April 07, 2006

People Love Parrots

Color me fucking surprised.

I think it's some kind of reddish hue, possibly indicating irritation.

The response to parrot-related blogging has been phenomenal, and I felt obligated to give you a small update on little Plucky's (as I've come to think of him) fate. He continues to lose feathers, but only when Chatty Cathy has gone to work, when she's home, I suppose he tries to remain innocuous and draw no attention to himself, as I've learned that Chatty will talk to anyone, particularly a captive audience. I see the poor plucked little bastard trying to sharpen the end of his perch enough to do himself greivious enough harm to shuffle off this mortal coil, muttering vague obscenities under his little parrot breath.

Chatty is also out $20, for a dummies guide to parroting, which has been no help whatsoever.

Chatty actually resorted to professional help, calling a local 'bird lady' (her words, not mine, I picture a 'Kids In The Hall' skit gone horribly awry...), who assured her that this was normal behavior for the bird, and that the bird basically has the mentality and behavior of a two-year-old child, so just consider the tantrums and whatnot as inevitable.

This, in turn, reminded me of the time K's nephew pulled all his feathers out because we wouldn't give him a cup of yogurt that he wanted.

We, the family, remained unmoved.

I'm still holding out for photos of the recently stripped bird, but she seems unwilling to commit her victim to film.

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Thursday, April 06, 2006

What Have You Done To My Parrot?!?!

(Or, why I'd never let a co-worker house-sit for me. Ever.)

Having made the perilous trek to the kitchen area of the store this morning for provisions, which consist of a cup of coffee and a Pepcid AC for the rather stifling heartburn that will inevitably rear its ugly head when said coffee reaches its destination, I found myself trapped.

Chatty Cathy had me boxed in, my thoughts recalling George Clooney's repetition of "Damn! We're in a tight spot!" from O Brother, Where Art Thou? as I tried to figure a way out of the small cul-de-sac I found myself in.

My only avenue of escape was the tiny bathroom to my right, which had a barred window that I didn't believe I had room to get a running start sufficient enough at to actually break through, which would only leave me prone and trapped in her gabby clutches while we waited for the paramedics to arrive. If I had to listen to her for that long, in that state, I might just tell them to mind their own business and let me bleed out, as it might seem like sweet release by that point.

Realization sinking in, I resigned myself to riding out whatever newest crisis she had to offer, figuring that someone had to wander back here eventually and save me. As things turned out, she actually had something amusing for a change, not a new tale of her misery and vomit. It seems that she found herself watching a friend's home while they went abroad for a couple of weeks, this situation involving a parrot, who desperately misses his masters.

Misses them so desperately in fact that he has now pulled all the feathers from around his neck, leaving a clearly bald ring around his collar, and he's now working on the rest of the body in small clumps while she's at work. During a particularly rigorous feeding ordeal, he latched onto her finger and wouldn't let go, not even when thumped on the top of the head, this battle leaving the parrot no worse for wear, but giving her a blood-blister on her finger.

The bird also now clearly says "Don't bite me!" in his little parroty squawk, having had it repeated to him more than anything recently.

I imagine he'll also be able to add "Let go of my finger you little balding fucker!" to his repertoire before his owners make it back.

I'm quite curious to see what a sad little bald parrot will look like, I'm currently in negotiations to have Chatty Cathy take before and after photos, once I can construct a plausible reason for needing the pictures.

Thoroughly amused with her unusual drama, I was reminded of a friend's tour of duty as a manager at our local Petsmart, during which the bird person (Or whatever they called her) burst into the office and demanded loudly "Who taught my parrot to say 'Goddammit', Goddammit?!?"

To which my buddy replied, stonefaced and sincere: "It says it twice?"

Comedy gold.

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Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Intermission (2003)

TiVo'd this one awhile back, and since the cable box in the living room has gone tits-up on us recently, and we can't get a cable guy in here until Saturday at best, I had occasion to give it a look this afternoon.

Set in Dublin, the story follows a series of interconnected friends, lovers and even outright enemies over the space of a few days activity.

The most obvious connecting thread turns out to be a recently split couple, played by Cillian (28 Days Later) Murphy and Kelly (Trainspotting) Macdonald, as he has work troubles, plans petty thefts and pines for her, since he never thought she'd leave. Macdonald on the other hand, has already met a new guy, older, wealthier, and married. Colin (Alexander) Farrell is a thief who wants to make a large score, and through a friend of Murphy's, reveals plans for the three of them to rob Macdonalds' new beau, and all this is glossing over the stories of at least a half dozen other characters who are woven into things.

A very well-crafted film that successfully balances the bitter, usually somewhat unhappy lives of its subjects with a dark sense of humor, I rather enjoyed this one. Colm (The Snapper) Meaney gives us a deadly serious Garda Officer, who is almost ridiculously hard-nosed, and has a television reporter trying to turn his life into a news-story. We first meet the reporter filming a human interest piece about a fellow who has rabbit races in his back yard, and his uncooperative rabbits, which gives us the laugh-out-loud funny line "Don'tcha do this to me, ya fooks!"

Another interesting cameo was by Kerry (Unleashed) Condon as a waitress, who turns up a few times during the movie, serving different characters.

Worth a look, kids.

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Settled Dust

Day off alone, K and her mother doing the whirlwind tour of Dallas for dress fittings and such today, so I find myself chilling out with a few movies and playing online.

Things smoothed over with the spousal unit, I'm happy to say, and I have to admit that a lot of last evenings' entry was colored by my general miserable feelings with this damned flu or sinus trouble, or whatever the hell it actually is. K and I ended up fighting over stupid stuff, which in turn led to my own introspection about the state of the relationship, and a general paranoia setting in over what, if anything, I might not be aware of that could be wrong in the relationship. I'm the type of guy, that when things start getting questioned, I want to drag every aspect of things into it, and hold every bit of behavior up for scrutiny, which is a really fucking stupid way to be, because if you pick away at anything for long enough, you can make it loook bad. Bottom line, neither one of us got a good night's sleep, I suppose out of subconscious adherance to the old adage about 'never going to bed mad', which is usually followed up with something about not having slept in fourteen years.

That said, I was kinda surprised by the complete and total crickets that last night's entry has received...I guess no one really knows how to respond to another's depression.

Listened to a few Podcasts on iTunes while online, Reel Horror Podcast, The Infested Sound (Which I'm thinking I may not be that into, they tend to get a little too juvenile even for me..) and the newest Cinemaslave, which actually had Joe reading an e-mail I had sent to him about that damned Crash film, so that was amusing. He at least conceded the point that the movie seemed to push the idea that everyone you encounter is a bigot or rascist, which neither one of us really believe. Also gave the latest (Cool) Shite a whirl yesterday while at work, it was pretty interesting, they had a great review of Dr. Strangelove, V For Vendetta, and Sympathy For Lady Vengeance, with an amusing riff on the gun-loving, flag-waving Bush constituency that apparently someone has given them some grief about on their website.

I've received word today that my childhood home, the ancestral manse, as it were, has been officially been condemned by the city, and will be torn down within the next two weeks, once my aunt, who owns the land, signs certian papers. I was originally conflicted by this information, felt as though I needed to go and dig through the house for any odd keepsake or family treasure that was left there, exposed to the elements and not thieved away by any of the scores of people who have apparently broken into the place. Now I feel as though anything recovered from there will just go a long way towards reminding me of a time when I was cripplingly poor and wanted to die, so I figure I can let it go, y'know?

I noticed that today marks one month of these things, which makes me kind of happy to have something to show for my time thus far. The little hit counter reflects what I'd think of as decent traffic for a site not committed to a specific genre or subject, with an average of 6-12 hits a day, it looks like.

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Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Shoot Me In The Fucking Face

So we have a huge blowout this evening, unheard of in many a moon, which has left me burned out on writing anything of any importance this evening.

My throat dry from trying to refute all the things I'm done wrong, a sudden sweat rolling down my back as I realize I've been hit with enough adrenaline to kill a horse.

Issues I've never known to exist thrown up in my face as if they were on display in the town hall for public viewing, rather than hidden deep from my eyes.

I finally end it all with the fact that I simply don't have the fucking strength to argue about this shit anymore, I don't have the animosity within me to keep this level of antagonism up any longer, I'm sorry, I'm out of this argument.

Apologies are made on both sides, regrets expressed, love re-affirmed.

Amends seemingly made, I retire to the computer room, she to the bed, not being much of a night owl.

I still feel hollow and empty, I don't know why... I just don't have the energy to fucking hate someone at home as well as out there in the world. All my bitterness is singularly focused on the job and the bitches contained therein.

I don't have the strength for this, because I love her too much to get too personal.

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Monday, April 03, 2006

The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy (2005)

I had TiVo'd this one awhile back, had the sickness-ridden afternoon to kill so I gave it a shot, not remembering anything even about the trailer, much less the books that I read and enjoyed around ten years ago. So forgive me if the movie's was a complete failure as an adaption, because I don't remember the source material very well, and I quite enjoyed this.

My first big surprise was Tim (Martin Freeman) of The Office as our reluctant 'hero' Arthur Dent, who is valiantly trying to stop his house being demolished on the day that our world is scheduled for demolition.

His friend Ford (Mos Def) Prefect reveals himself to be an alien, and they hitch a ride on one of the very ships sent to destroy the earth, and are immediately set upon by the Vogons, bureaucratic brutes who torture them with bad poetry.

Sam ( Matchstick Men) Rockwell turn up as Zaphod Beeblebrox, President Of The Galaxy and the man responsible for inadvertantly signing the order allowing Earth to be destroyed to make way for an intergalactic bypass, much as Arthur's home was to be torn down to make way for a highway bypass.

Rockwell fairly chews the scenery as he does in most roles, Freeman is suitably low-key, and Alan (Dogma) Rickman is terrific as the depressed robot Marvin.

Featuring a convoluted plot that I refuse to try and distill here, this is a really enjoyable Sci-Fi adventure. Give it a look.

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Down With The Sickness

So last evening as I noticed a certian trouble swallowing a beverage, I started to get nervous, as I had noted a weird stuffiness earlier in the day that no amount of nose blowing seemed able to clear. Now there was this situation with my throat/tonsil area, and the next thing I fucking know, I have a nice clammy cold-sweat thing going on, as the fever sets in for good.

Happy anniversary, you now have the flu, or a sinus infection.

I shouldn't be surprised, as K seems to constantly nurse a low grade sinus problem back and forth from manageable to severe, so this is kind if my karma for feeling decent most of the time.

Called in this morning, which I'm certian will get me some grief tomorrow, because we had to go and break down an event that we'd set up for the Museum, and I'm sure they were counting on a strong back to lug all that shit back to the store. Unfortunately for them, I refuse to kill myself for an hourly wage, unlike most of the employees there, who won't call in and want to stagger into work sneezing, snotting, hacking, with a fucking Kleenex stuck to each hand just to prove how devoted they are. If you're indeed that sick, keep yer ebola-ridden ass at home, I don't want to get diagnosed with SARS or something just so you can prove how comitted you are to the boss.

Took a bunch of over-the-counter crap and slept until noon. Spent most of the afternoon on the couch alternately sweating or freezing, but I think that may be finally starting to lift, as the Advil has gotten into the system fully.

Did my level best to empty out the TiVo, which has accumulated a lot of viewing material of late, so I plowed through the Independent Film Channels' recent Henry Rollins: Uncut From NYC special and the first episode of his returning television series for them, both entertaining, though I think I preferred his spoken word material more before it became more stand-up-ish. He does have a few good riffs about the Bush admistration that I thought were pretty amusing, and a bit on Wal-Mart that was too near the truth to be funny. Rollins new show format may be a little less interesting to me than last season, as they seem to have lost the film review aspect in favor of interviews and live music, which I found myself fast-forwarding through, I'm officially over the whole college-rock thing. Sorry, Sleater-Kinney.

I watched several of the Aqua Teen Hunger Force episodes that were hanging around as well, what an amazingly non-sensical show, but pretty damned well-written, considering the fact that they make the characters as amusing as the are with little to no plot involved.

Watched a flick and looked around online for a band for the wedding with K, since her local guy seems to be dragging his heels about finding someone and we'd rather not end up with out-takes from The Wedding Singer, if you know what I mean. Of course, the only band that seemed promising was already booked, which is kinda typical, and why we asked this other fucking guy to look into things over 4 months ago, and he seems to have left us high and dry.

So now we get to wade through the endless tide of cover bands to find the one group that will play the least embarrassing assortment of songs.

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Sunday, April 02, 2006

The Wedding Date (2005)

A little romantic flick for the anniversary, well as romantic as something that on paper reads basically 'desperate for a date for her sisters' wedding, a young woman hires a male escort'.

Hilarity ensues.

Being a fan of Debra (Will & Grace) Messing, when the film began with her doing the usual Lucy routine, klutzing around dropping shit, I was rather alarmed that I'd just signed on for a hour and a half Will & Grace episode without Will. Thankfully, the film hits its stride pretty quickly, and she meets her sight unseen escort on the plane to London, as they are both running late.

The escort, Dermot (About Schmidt) Mulroney is of course charming and handsome, and wins over her family, Messing begins to fall for him, then some sort of complication arises. There's nothing overly original here, but the film's characters are enjoyable and this film is charming for what it is, a predictably sweet chick flick, which I have nothing against, after all, it's not all about death and dismemberment, now is it?

I was amused to see Jack (Pirates Of The Caribbean:Curse Of The Black Pearl) Davenport of the UK's Coupling as the sister's groom.

Worth a look with a significant other, if nothing else to be thankful for the fact that your story about how the two of you met doesn't involve several thousand dollars being exchanged and a cover story discussed.

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Beyond The Sea (2004)

Netflixed this one, had a chance to give it a spin this afternoon, went in knowing nothing save that it was about Bobby Darin, and starred Kevin (Swimming With Sharks) Spacey.

The film borders on a musical due to the extraordinary amount of Darin's music contained, but was quite enjoyable even for someone who doesn't generally seek out the musical. The film opens with Darin filming a biography of his life, which is broken up when he gets distracted by the boy playing him as a child. Darin (Spacey) starts talking to the child, who claims to not be playing him, but to be Darin as a child, and as they begin talking about the past, we segue into a neighborhood in the Bronx, and basically take Darin's story from the very beginning.

We watch his rise from small-timer trying to make a go of it with his real name, Walden Robert Cassotto, to the teen-idol who gave us "Splish Splash" and "Dream Lover" in the fifties, to his marriage to Sandra (Gidget) Dee, through a film career, into relative obscurity in the 70's.

The Space-man does things up right, writing, directing, starring in, and I believe he also catered the crew while they were on the film set. His singing is quite impressive, and though I'd never say that I'm even close to being a Darin fan, I thought he did a pretty convincing job with the tunes, at least to my passing ear. There is fun poked early on in the film, that Darin is too old to be playing himself, I suppose Spacey knew that he couldn't just step into the role of a 20-something pop star without at least acknowledging that fact.

An enjoyable film, but be prepared for the musical numbers, and FYI, Spacey is quite the little dancer.

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